State Fair care facility opens amid Wisconsin's COVID-19 surge

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) on Tuesday, Oct. 13 reported record rises in both COVID-19 cases and virus-related deaths as the state prepares to open an alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park.

As a continued surge in COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm Wisconsin's 134 hospitals, Gov. Tony Evers activated the alternate care facility. The site will be up and running at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

"Our numbers continue to be exorbitant and deadly," said Evers.

The facility can accommodate up to 50 patients on its first day and, eventually, as many as 530.

"We are in constant communication with hospitals to be able to transfer patients as early as tomorrow. This is very dynamic, and they are working on their surge," said Andrea Palm, Wisconsin DHS secretary-designee. "As they really actively manage their patient flow, that information will become more clear."

COVID-19 alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park

COVID-19 alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park

Palm said the site will be used specifically for COVID-19 patients who are on their way toward being discharged.

"The goal is to take the pressure off local hospitals to treat more serious COVID patients and other patients in general," Palm said.

Across Wisconsin, 959 people were actively hospitalized as of Tuesday -- more than three times the number one month ago. 

Wisconsin COVID-19 hospitalization data (Wisconsin DHS)

Wisconsin COVID-19 hospitalization data (Wisconsin DHS)

Among those who are hospitalized, 243 are in intensive care with 202 ICU beds left available for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients -- meaning the state's ICU capacity is approximately 86% full.

"We've let down our guard. The dissolution of the 'Safer at Home' order in May and the following of the chaotic situation," Gov. Evers said. "People are tired of the pandemic."

A frustrated governor once again on Tuesday urged Wisconsinites to do their part to help slow the spread, from abiding by the mask mandate to continuing to social distance and staying home as much as possible.

"I've said it so many times, I'm sick of saying it," Gov. Evers said.

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The Wisconsin Department of Administration will oversee operations of the alternate care facility and has identified approximately 200 state employees, volunteers and National Guard members to help run it.

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